October 3, 2012

Waterville fire ruled accidental

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- A fire that damaged a Western Avenue apartment building Tuesday was ruled accidental, officials said.

click image to enlarge

INVESTIGATION: Ken MacMaster, left, of the state Fire Marshal's Office, and Waterville firefighter John Gromek prepare to enter an apartment building in Watervile on Wednesday to determine the cause of a fire that damaged the building on Tuesday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

The fire started in a second-floor apartment in the two-and-a-half story building, which is at the corner of Western Court and was built in 1914, said Lt. John Gromek of the Waterville Fire Department.

Ken MacMaster, an investigator for the state fire marshal's office, was at the scene Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, helping fire officials determine a cause, Gromek said.

"We determined it to be an accidental fire, which started in apartment 3," Gromek said. "It appears to be electrical. There were multiple electrical items plugged into one extension cord, so we were unable to determine which device actually caused it."

The tenant of the apartment where the fire started was not at home when the fire broke out, Gromek said. He said everything in that apartment was destroyed.

Another apartment on the second floor sustained smoke damage, but the tenant will likely be able to salvage most of her belongings, he said.

An apartment on the first floor, occupied by a couple, had the least amount of damage, he said.

"Their apartment was really unharmed," he said. "There was probably some smoke damage to stuff, but it's clean-able and salvageable."

The building is owned by Two Cities LLC, of West Gardiner, which owns five rental buildings in Skowhegan and Waterville, he said.

Seven people lived in the building, which will remain vacant until the owner is able to fix it up, he said. The owner, who is responsible for closing up the structure, is working with the insurance company on that effort, according to Gromek.

He said the building owner is insured for the building itself, but the tenants had no renter's insurance. The owner's insurance does not cover contents owned by the tenants.

"The tenant doesn't have the option to go back on the building owner's insurance," he said.

About 35 firefighters from Waterville, Winslow and Oakland responded to the fire around 4 p.m. Tuesday and rescued two cats and two pet rats belonging to first floor tenants. A woman who lives on the second floor was able to rescue two cats and a dog with help from friends.

Gromek said no one was injured in the fire, and all of the tenants have places to stay.

"I believe the Red Cross helped out one of the apartment tenants and the other ones stayed with friends and possibly found another rent with the same landlord," he said.

Amy Calder -- 861-9247

acalder@centralmaine.com

 

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